By Michele Cushatt
“Public Speaking 101.”
Terror. The thought of standing in front of an audience made my stomach turn and hands shake. But I couldn’t graduate high school without the required course. For three years I worried. But soon senior year arrived. Bracing myself for certain humiliation (and nausea), I registered for the class. How would I survive?
Fast-forward twenty-something years. I now make a living as both a communicator and coach for communicators. I no longer feel terror when taking a stage. The occasional case of nerves? Absolutely. Moments of insecurity? Of course. But nothing that would cause my lunch to fly.
What made the difference? It wasn’t a pill or counselor or conference, although a few resources and nuggets of wisdom certainly did help.
It was—is—a deep and uncomfortable conviction of God’s calling. I can’t deny His work, his redeeming. And my responsibility, as a result.
I imagine Esther—as in Queen Esther—felt a similar discomfort and reluctance to step onto her stage. She didn’t ask for a public life, for a plucking from obscurity to live in a palace. But she got it just the same. As her uncle Mordecai reminded during a moment of resistance, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14)
Esther isn’t the only Biblical example of a woman who didn’t imagine herself a leader. Ruth had no idea she’d leave Moab for a mother-in-law and threshing floor. Sarah laughed at the idea of birthing a child in her old age. And Mary, dear Mary, gave up safety and innocence to birth a Messiah.
I imagine each of these women faced moments of reluctance and fear. If given the choice, they might have opted for a quiet life over a complicated and public one.
And yet the God they loved called each to lead. To lay down obscurity to take their stage. In a palace, on a threshing floor, in a stable. To trust that the God who called them would help them manage the fear and risk and discomfort that came as a result.
You may not be a public speaker. And you and I certainly aren’t mamas to the Messiah. But wherever you are, whatever your stage, you have been chosen to lead. To influence, impact, and change your world. Queen or not, yours is a unique and powerful voice, and you have been called by the Creator to use it. Fear will tempt you with safety and comfort. It will taunt you with all the reasons why you don’t have what it takes to lead and love and change your world.
But Jesus, the one who did the choosing, gently reminds:
Who knows but that you have come for such a time as this?